"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"

Father God, thank you for the love of the truth you have given me. Please bless me with the wisdom, knowledge and discernment needed to always present the truth in an attitude of grace and love. Use this blog and Northwoods Ministries for your glory. Help us all to read and to study Your Word without preconceived notions, but rather, let scripture interpret scripture in the presence of the Holy Spirit. All praise to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Trump is Puppet of US ‘Deep State,’ has No ‘Own’ Foreign Policy – Assad

Some will accuse me of blowing Assad's trumpet here, but the fact is I have made similar remarks many times in the past. I'm not a fan of Assad; he is evil and cruel. I am a fan of the truth, and some of Assad's remarks are very close to the truth, some, not-so-much.

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (L) and US President Donald Trump © Reuters

US president Donald Trump is not a truly independent political leader but merely a puppet of US corporations, military and intelligence, and who serves their interests, Syrian President Bashar Assad has told the Latin American TeleSUR TV network.

Trump pursues “no own policies” but only executes the decisions made by the “intelligence agencies, the Pentagon, the big arms manufacturers, oil companies, and financial institutions,” the Syrian leader said in an exclusive interview with TeleSUR.

"As we have seen in the past few weeks, he changed his rhetoric completely and subjected himself to the terms of the deep American state, or the deep American regime," Assad added.

This was obvious to me when Trump began appointing establishment figures to high positions in his government. It became more obvious when he began reversing decisions upon which he campaigned. America's attempt to elect an anti-establishment President failed miserably as it surely had to. The President does not run this country; Assad correctly identifies who does.

He referred to the fact that Trump came to power on a political platform promising a departure from the interventionist policy of the previous US president, Barack Obama, but soon forgot his promises and ordered a missile strike against the Syrian air base following a chemical weapons incident in Syria’s Idlib province.

That may explain why Assad thought he could get away with using Sarin gas on Syrians. He assumed Trump would keep his word and not intervene. He, obviously, knew nothing of Trump.

The Syrian president also said that it is “a complete waste of time to make an assessment of the American president’s foreign policy” as “he might say something” but what he really does depends on “what these [US military and business] institutions dictate to him.”

He also added that it “is not new” and “has been ongoing American policy for decades.”

"This is what characterizes American politicians: they lie on a daily basis... That’s why we shouldn’t believe what the Pentagon or any other American institution says because they say things which serve their policies, not things which reflect reality and the facts on the ground,” Assad told TeleSUR.

ALL politicians lie on a daily basis, not just Americans.

He went on to say that the US continues to pursue its age-long policy aimed at establishing and maintaining a global hegemony by turning all countries that oppose it into war zones.

"The United States always seeks to control all the states of the world without exception. It does not accept allies, regardless of whether they are developed states as those in the Western bloc or other states of the world," the Syrian leader explained.

He goes too far here, much too far. If you look at most of the countries where there are war zones, they are almost all Muslim and most of the fighting is caused by Jihadists wanting the state to be even more Muslim than it already is. America has little or nothing to do with beginning those wars.

He also added that “what is happening to Syria, to Korea, to Iran, to Russia, and maybe to Venezuela now, aims at re-imposing American hegemony on the world because they believe that this hegemony is under threat now, which consequently threatens the interests of American economic and political elites.”

What is happening in Venezuela has to do with a collapsing economy because of an incompetent, socialist leader. The people are hungry!

North Korea and Iran are threats, not to the American economy, but to American allies like South Korea and Israel, and even to America itself.

Russia is a different issue. NATO and the cast of characters Assad lists above are, I believe, largely responsible for creating a new version of the 'cold war' by demonizing Russia and propagandizing an imminent threat of invasion to all surrounding countries. This is lees about a Russian threat than about NATO creating a reason for its existence. It is basically obsolete and should be shut-down. But as long as NATO is mobilizing troops, amassing them along Russian borders, arms manufacturers are moving inventory, and that's what it's all about.

Assad expressed similar views in an interview with Russia’s Sputnik news agency about a week ago. “The regime in the United States hasn't changed,” he said, adding, “since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States has been attacking different countries in different ways without taking into consideration the Security Council or the United Nations.”

He also said that for the US, “the end justifies the means, no values, no morals at all, anything could happen.”

Despite his criticism, Assad once again confirmed the readiness of the Syrian government to cooperate with the US if it could change its attitude towards respecting other countries’ sovereignty and that of Syria in particular.

If respecting sovereignty means allowing Assad to use chemical weapons, it's not going to happen. Notice, there was no mention of them in this article.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Venezuela to Leave ‘Interventionist’ OAS Group Amid Deadly Anti-Govt Protests

© Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters

Caracas has decided to withdraw its membership from the Organization of American States after the body voted to “breach sovereignty” and convene an emergency meeting over the ongoing violent crisis in Venezuela that has already resulted in 29 deaths.

The Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodriguez, announced that the Latin American country will begin the process of exiting OAS after the organization convened a meeting of foreign ministers to discuss Venezuela.

The decision by the OAS' Permanent Council was passed by 19 votes to 10, with one abstention and one absence.

The foreign ministry and President Nicolas Maduro will forward a letter to the OAS on Thursday stating that "Venezuela will not participate in any activities that promote interventionism," Rodriguez said, adding that the exit process will take 24 months.

Addressing the nation that has been engulfed in violence, Rodriguez asserted that the OAS seeks to criminalize the Venezuelan government and destabilize its constitutional democracy in order to facilitate foreign intervention. The country's chief diplomat said that OAS does not have the consent of the affected country to intervene in domestic affairs.

Samuel Moncada, Venezuela’s representative to the Organization of American States, said that the fate of the South American nation will never be decided by institutions such as the OAS or Washington.

Protests in the country have been ongoing in Venezuela since March 29, after the Supreme Court ruled to take over the duties of the National Assembly, a ruling many saw as undemocratic. Although the Supreme Court repealed the ruling three days later, this was not enough to assuage anti-government protesters.

The opposition has demanded the government hold fresh elections as soon as possible. President Maduro has agreed but a date has yet to be set.

At least 29 people have died in clashes so far this month, according to Reuters, as many of the rallies erupted in violence and vandalism.

Clashes erupted in Caracas again on Wednesday after National Guard troops and police blocked a highway in the area of the capital where thousands demonstrated. Venezuelan police fired tear gas at stone-throwing anti-government protesters as masked youths picked up tear gas canisters to hurl back at security forces.

While police stopped protesters advancing, government supporters staged a counter-rally near the presidential palace in central Caracas.

Maduro's opponents are demanding the release of imprisoned protesters, humanitarian aid to help with food and medicine shortages, as well as autonomy for the opposition-led legislature.

Maduro claims recent protests are nothing more than opposition efforts to stir up violence and topple his government. Bolivian President Evo Morales agrees with his counterpart that the anti-government protests in Venezuela are “a coup d’etat, driven by the right.”

There could be some truth in what he is saying, but it's more likely that it is just socialist paranoia. The Venezuelan economy is collapsing and Maduro's response is to entrench himself in power. He is incompetent and probably corrupt (who in South America isn't), and he is the last person Venezuela needs in power to fix the economy. The people are getting hungry and Morales blames outsiders for stirring up the people. 

“I feel sad that the Organization of American States [OAS] keeps on its tradition of coups, which is the primary means of the North American empire,” Morales said in an interview with RT.

France Offers Evidence Syria was Behind Nerve Gas Attack

Can Assad really be that stupid?
American and UK intelligence have proven themselves unreliable to me. So my first reaction is to take anything that comes out of either outfit with a large grain of salt.

That Assad would risk alienating Trump just days after Trump announced that Assad would not have to go to get a settlement in Syria is unconscionably stupid. Is Assad that stupid? The French think so. They may be right, or not. I'm not fully convinced yet, but getting closer.

Chemical analysis indicates the nerve gas used in the April 4 attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun was identical to that used previously by the Syrian military.
By Ed Adamczyk  

The French government announced Wednesday it has proof Syria was responsible for a 
nerve gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, in which at least 87 people died. 
Photo by Mohammed Badra/EPA

UPI  -- The French government has proof indicating the Syrian air force dropped bombs containing the nerve gas Sarin on a civilian population, it said Wednesday.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said samples taken from the April 4 attack on rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun bear the same chemical signature of Sarin made by the Syrian government, and match samples from a prior chemical attack.

"We have definite sources that the procedure used to make the Sarin sampled is typical of the methods developed in Syrian laboratories. This method bears the signature of the regime, and that is what has allowed us to establish its responsibility in this attack."

The report by France's intelligence agency, declassified Wednesday, concludes that the Sarin was manufactured by the Syrian government. It said the Sarin found in Khan Sheikhoun was produced in the same process as Sarin found in an unexploded grenade dropped by a Syrian government helicopter in 2013.

At least 87 people died, and hundreds more exhibited symptoms of a reaction to a nerve agent, in the attack. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has dismissed the incident as a fabrication. Last week the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons also announced it has "incontrovertible" evidence that Syria conducted the attack.

"Neither do the French services assess that the theory of a staged attack or manipulation by the opposition is credible, particularly because of the massive influx in a very limited time towards hospitals in Syria and Turkey, and the simultaneous, massive uploading of videos showing symptoms of the use of neurotoxic agents," the report said.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Marine Le Pen Steps Down at National Front to Boost Run for Presidency

After qualifying for run-off in France's presidential election,
she seeks to build wider appeal
CBC News

After qualifying for the second round of voting in the presidential election, Marine Le Pen has decided to step down as president of her party, the National Front. (Kamil Zihnioglu/Associated Press)

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has announced that she is stepping down as leader of the National Front, the party she has helmed since 2011.

The announcement came a day after Le Pen came second to centrist Emmanuel Macron in the first round of the French presidential election, securing her a chance to bid for the presidency.

Monday's move may be a way for the 48-year-old candidate to embrace a wider range of potential voters ahead of the May 7 run-off between herself and Macron.

She took 21.3 per cent of the vote on Sunday, to Macron's 24.01 per cent.

"Tonight, I am no longer the president of the National Front. I am the presidential candidate," she said on French public television news.

She may be trying to distance herself from the anti-Semitic and openly racist associations of the National Front, particularly under her father and predecessor Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Marine Le Pen has tried to remake the image of the National Front since she assumed its leadership, expelling many of the old guard leaders who served under her father.

She has built a wider base of support through two election campaigns, coming third in the first round of voting in 2012.

Her own platform, not the party's

She has said the platform she ran on in 2017 is her own and not her party's. If Le Pen wins, she would be France's first woman president.

Le Pen went on the offensive against Macron in her comments Monday. "He is a hysterical, radical 'Europeanist.' He is for total open borders. He says there is no such thing as French culture," she said.

Her campaign so far emphasizes returning French sovereignty, leaving the European Union, clamping down on  free trade, and slashing immigration.

Among her proposals:

Negotiation with Brussels on a new EU and a referendum on EU membership.
Expelling illegal immigrants and reducing legal immigration to 10,000 people per year.
Closing "extremist" mosques.
Fixing the retirement age at 60 and enshrining a 35-hour work week.

However, some doubt whether she has left behind the old remnants of National Front racism and anti-Semitism.

Denunciation by other politicians

On Monday, Israel's president denounced Le Pen for her statement earlier this month denying France was responsible for its role in rounding up French Jews for deportation to Nazi death camps.

Speaking Monday on Israel's Holocaust memorial day, President Reuven Rivlin said he found the comments "uniquely disturbing."

Politicians on the moderate left and right, including French President François Hollande and the losing Socialist and Republican party candidates in Sunday's first-round vote, manoeuvred to block Le Pen's path to power.

In a solemn address from the Elysée Palace, Hollande said he would vote for Macron, his former economy minister, because Le Pen represents "both the danger of the isolation of France and of rupture with the European Union."

Hollande said the far right would "deeply divide France" at a time when the terror threat requires solidarity. "Faced with such a risk, it is not possible to remain silent or to take refuge in indifference," he said.

With files from The Associated Press

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Thousands of Afghan Refugees in Germany Claim to be Former Taliban Fighters – Der Spiegel

© Reuters

The German authorities are now verifying statements of thousands of Afghan refugees, who came to Germany and claimed to be former Taliban militants, the German Der Spiegel weekly reports, adding that criminal investigations have been launched in 70 cases.

Since 2015, several thousands of refugees who came from Afghanistan admitted during interviews with representatives of the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) that they either had contacts with some radical Islamist groups in Afghanistan or directly fought for the extremists, Der Spiegel reports, citing data provided by the BAMF to the German security services.

The weekly also says that the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office has already opened criminal cases against 70 Afghan refugees after verifying their statements. Six asylum seekers have been already arrested, the media reports, adding that legal action against some of the suspects will be initiated next week.

However, it is still unclear if all refugees who declared themselves Taliban fighters indeed fought for the extremists or had links to any radical group. According to Der Spiegel, the German authorities suspect that some asylum seekers may be seeking to boost their prospects of receiving asylum in Germany in this way, as affiliation with the Taliban is punishable with the death penalty in Afghanistan.

In November 2016, it was reported that the German authorities planned to send home some 12,000 Afghans as they considered the security situation in Afghanistan safe enough. Under such circumstances, the refugees might try to indicate that it is not safe for them to be sent back because they would face imminent death at the hands of the authorities.

However, German security services expect a surge in anti-terrorist investigations against alleged Taliban fighters in addition to the inquiries, which were already launched against the members of Islamic State terrorist group in Germany.

The German Federal Prosecutor’s Office warns that it is already “pushed to the limit” by the sheer number of anti-terrorist investigations it has to pursue. In 2016, the agency opened 200 criminal cases against suspected Islamic terrorists, Germany’s Die Welt daily reports.

In early March, the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency (BfV), Hans-Georg Maassen, said that Islamists could carry out terrorist attacks at any time, warning that “the potential of violence-oriented Islamists in Germany is growing steadily and will continue to increase.”

He also said that his agency has as many as 1,600 people on its radar.

In the meantime, one Taliban leader tried to claim asylum in Germany using fake ID papers. Abdul Rauf Mohammed, the former health minister under the Taliban between 1996 and 2001, arrived at Germany's Frankfurt airport from the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, presented a fake passport and applied for asylum for himself and his family members.

However, the German authorities promptly uncovered his true identity and rejected his asylum request, sending him back to Saudi Arabia.

US-led forces, including Germany, invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban from power more than 15 years ago, following the attacks of September 11, 2001. However, the extremist group, which advocates strict Islamist rule, is still active and continues to attack Afghan military and carry out terrorist attacks.

On Friday, more than 100 Afghan soldiers were killed and injured in a Taliban attack on a military base in northern Afghanistan, according to the Afghan Defense Ministry.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Paris Shooting Kills Police Officer, Wounds 2; Islamic State Claims Credit

Paris - under multiculturalism - how do you like it so far? 

"What can you say? It just never ends," President Donald Trump said Thursday.
By Doug G. Ware

French police officers stand guard after a shooting on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, France,
on Thursday killed one police officer, wounded two and left the gunman dead. 
Photo by Ian Langsdon/EPA

UPI -- French authorities said a police officer was shot dead Thursday on one of the best-known streets in downtown Paris -- an attack that also left the gunman dead and has investigators working to determine if it was terror-related.

The gunfire began Thursday night on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and the area was evacuated, authorities said. Two other police officers were wounded in the shooting.

There were no immediate reports of civilian casualties. Witnesses said the gunman used an AK-47-type rifle in the attack.

"We heard shooting and everyone ran in panic. People were crying," one witness told France's The Local.

France's Prefecture National Police advised people to stay clear of the area, which is located on the western flank of Paris.

Authorities said the gunman, whose name was not immediately disclosed, had been known to police and was the subject of a prior investigation, Sky News reported.

"At first we thought it was firecrackers but then we realized it was a shooting and everyone ran in panic. People were crying," one witness told French television.

French civilians hold their hands in the air after a shooting in which a police officer was shot
on the Champs Elysees in Paris, France, on Thursday. Photo by Ian Langsdon/EPA

"The area was cleared really quickly."

The Islamic State terror group claimed credit for the shooting.

The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is a popular shopping and tourist district in Paris near the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower.

"Our condolences from our country to the people of France," U.S. President Donald Trump said at a joint news conference with Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni Thursday.

"It is happening again," he continued. "It is a very, very terrible thing that's going on in the world today but it looks like another terrorist attack. What can you say? It just never ends. We have to be strong and we have to be vigilant -- and I have been saying it for a long time."

Officials, though, weren't immediately certain whether the shooting was terror-related. Thursday's incident was the second time this year a police officer was shot on the Champs-Élysées -- and came as France prepares for the first round of its presidential election on Sunday.

Paris has been on high alert for months out of concern the city may again be targeted by militants. More than 100 people were killed in a coordinated attack in November 2015. A dozen people were killed ten months earlier in an attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Tuesday, two men were arrested in Marseille on suspicion of plotting various attacks in France.

"If you're in Paris, monitor local news. Champs-Elysées has been closed. Authorities are telling people to avoid the area after a shooting," the U.S. Department of State said in a tweet.

Nikolai Andrushchenko Russian Anti-Corruption Journalist Dies After Beating

Nikolay Andrushchenko, a Russian journalist and civil rights activist known for his controversial corruption accusations, has died in the hospital six weeks after he was beaten by unidentified attackers in St. Petersburg. Police are investigating the case.

The 73-year old Andrushchenko passed away without coming out of a medically-induced coma after the suspected attack. The circumstances and suspects in the incident have not been revealed so far.

The journalist, who was the founder and a long-time editor of privately-owned Novy Peterburg newspaper, as well as a former city lawmaker and physicist with a higher doctorate degree, was found lying unconscious on the street on March 9 and transferred to the hospital in an ambulance.

According to Novy Peterburg chief editor Denis Usov, the incident took place after Andrushchenko allegedly received threats.

“[They] demanded he provide some documents. And then, he was found with his head banged near his house,” Usov said, as cited by RBK. He did not elaborate on what the documents were.

Usov added that they were told it was not clear if the journalist received the head injury as a result of the beating or from a fall. He speculated that the attack might have been connected to articles published in Novy Peterburg, some of which focused on the "theatrical fight against corruption," as well as allegations of past mafia links relating to the city authorities.

Andrushchenko was heading to a business meeting when the incident happened, said Novy Peterburg director Alevtina Avgeeva, adding that an investigation into the attack has been launched by the St. Petersburg police.

Andrushchenko was known as a harsh critic of the Russian government, and in particular of the judicial and law enforcement system of St. Petersburg, accusing the latter of links to southern Russian criminal groups in the 1990s. In 2008, he made headlines after penning a letter addressed to a list of human rights organizations and world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, then US President Bush, Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former UK PM Gordon Brown, in which he publicly renounced Russian citizenship and accused Moscow of political repressions and encroachment on freedom of speech.

While technically Russian law does not permit the renunciation of citizenship when the individual does not have citizenship of another country or “guarantees that he will obtain it,” and it is unclear what legal steps Andrushchenko actually attempted in this regard, he was also in the middle of a legal case with charges of libel and incitement leveled against him.

In 2007, Andrushchenko was detained and charged with incitement to carry out extremist activity, insulting a representative of authority and libel against state prosecution officials after a series of controversial articles for his newspaper. Those included Andrushchenko writing an editorial for his publication for people to take part in a mass unauthorized opposition rally, which was eventually not published.

In June 2009, the court found Andrushchenko guilty of inciting social discord against prosecution officials and insulting them, for which he received a suspended sentence of one year and was ordered to pay a fine of 20,000 rubles ($350). Andrushchenko neither had to serve his jail nor pay the fine, as by the time the verdict arrived, the statute of limitations in his case had already expired.

Andrushchenko flatly denied all the charges against him and also included in the 2008 letter lengthy allegations of “torture” and mistreatment in detention by police, which he said had a severe effect on his health. He also claimed that a year prior to his arrest he unsuccessfully attempted to get police to detain a migrant worker who had allegedly beaten him with nunchucks and had attempted an arson attack on his flat, which led him to believe the attack was “organized” by the Prosecutor’s Office.

The Novy Peterburg newspaper, which was shut down by a separate court decision in 2007 after “signs of extremist materials” were found in its articles amid the legal proceedings in Andrushchenko’s case, resumed publication in 2009 after the ruling was appealed. While the paper had been known to be a highly controversial outlet in the journalistic community of St. Petersburg, the situation also sparked concerns and accusations of censorship.